Officers from the Police Cyber Taskforce (PCT) and investigators from the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) caught Chonwicha Pansamut, 32, in tambon Sanabtueb in Ayutthaya’s Wang Noi district on Friday (Oct 28), Pol Maj Gen Theeradet Thamsuthee, chief of investigation at the Metropolitan Police Bureau, said yesterday.
The arresting team seized 16 assets from the suspect, including bank accounts, gold ornaments, cash, watches and mobile phones. He was charged with colluding in public fraud, illegal assembly, transnational crime, putting false information into a computer system, money laundering and related offences, reports the Bangkok Post.
Pol Maj Gen Theeradet said PCT police earlier sought approval from the Samut Prakan Provincial court to issue 58 warrants for call centre scammers preying on victims.
Authorities have obtained evidence that a prime suspect in three major scam cases in which victims had been lured into transferring more than B150mn to his scam gang’s bank accounts was Mr Chonwicha, who claimed to be the chief of Muang district police in Chiang Rai.
On Oct 17, PCT investigators went to Cambodia’s Poipet town to join Cambodian police in raiding a building housing centre scammers.
However, Taiwanese gang leaders fled with their Thai employees, working as scammers, via a secret channel in the building. Mr Chonwicha was among the scammers.
The PCT team later learned the suspect had returned to Thailand. They began tracing his whereabouts, leading to his arrest in Ayutthaya. During questioning, Mr Chonwicha admitted all charges, said Pol Maj Gen Theeradet.
The suspect admitted colluding with other scammers into luring victims into transferring money to his gang.
Before joining the scam gang, he sneaked across the border to Cambodia via a natural border pass to work as an administrator of a gambling website in Poipet town in November last year.
In February this year, he began working as a phone call scammer in the second line of phone scam operations. He posed as a police lieutenant in Muang district of Chiang Rai province.
Taiwanese scam gang leaders were satisfied with his performance and promoted him to be a senior staff in the third line of the scam operation in which he posed as a police colonel.
He would lure victims into wiring B7-8mn a month to his gang.
Pol Maj Gen Theeradet said the suspect was also responsible for three major cases. In the first case, he managed to lure Ms Ampha, a retired teacher, into transferring him B11mn in April this year.
In the second case, the suspect duped stock investor Wichai into transferring B41mn to his gang in July.
The third major victim was a doctor in Chumphon province who was duped into transferring B101mn to the gang, said Pol Maj Gen Theeradet. He withheld the surnames of the victims.
The suspect said his gang had about 50-60 Thai staff. During the 1-3 months he was at work, Chonwicha was paid about B20,000 per month.
After that his salary rose to B30,000 plus 3% in commission fees from the money he deceived from victims.
His commission fees were B2mn from swindling the three major victims. Since joining the scam gang, he earned about B4mn.
He spent around one million baht to build a house in Thailand and gave his relatives about B1mn.
He bought gold ornaments for about B500,000 and the rest financed his personal expenses and online gambling.
The suspect was handed over to cybercrime police. Authorities will seize his assets.